In a feature from the latest issue of SA Rugby magazine, we caught up with former Western Province and Sharks scrumhalf Conrad Hoffman.
The perception that rugby and beer go together like lineouts and mauls is not always correct – when it comes to their beverage of choice, most players opt for coffee, scouting the best coffee shops while on tour, with good coffee machines nowadays standard in most team rooms.
With coffee culture picking up steam in South Africa, many former players have opted to swap boots and balls for cups and beans. The 33-year-old Conrad Hoffmann is one of them.
Hoffmann, a former SA U19 scrumhalf with a handy boot and a great pass, played top-flight senior rugby from 2007 to 2015 – for Western Province, the Stormers, Sharks and Brumbies, accumulating 29 Super Rugby and 64 provincial caps.
After playing age-group rugby for WP, the former Paarl Boys’ High scholar made his senior debut in the blue and white hoops in in 2007. He swapped Cape Town for Durban in 2011, where his path crossed with former Bok coach Jake White.
White lured Hoffmann to Canberra in 2013 where he played for the Brumbies, before he returned to Durban for a final stint with the Sharks until he hung up his boots in 2015, with injuries playing havoc during his career.
‘Highlights from my playing days include my first full season of Currie Cup rugby and my Super Rugby, but I’d say the friends we made and the relationships we built would be top of the list,’ he tells SA Rugby magazine.
‘When I picked up an umpteenth serious injury in 2014, and my wife got pregnant with our first child, I decided to retire and shift my focus to life after rugby and our family.
‘I retired young and while I miss the game, I’m grateful for the people I met, the relationships we built and the lessons we learnt.’
LIFE AFTER RUGBY
Hoffmann decided to try and make a living from his passion, which is coffee. He imports raw beans from countries such as Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia and Ethiopia, roasts them himself and beyond serving some of the best coffee in Cape Town, Hoffmann also supplies shops and restaurants.
‘It was during my time with the Brumbies in Australia that my love for coffee was born. I worked at a roastery and did a barista course, so the natural next step was creating a business from it,’ says Hoffmann, who is the owner of Alchemy Coffee Roasters in the northern suburbs of Cape Town.
‘I have used some of the lessons I learned as a rugby player in my business \’96 such as work ethic, dedication and having a clear vision.’
More recently, JJ Engelbrecht, the former Springbok, WP and Bulls centre and wing, also became involved in the business.
In 2012, Hoffmann married Deolien, a teacher from the Northern Cape who shares his passion for travelling, good food, rugby and coffee. They have three children, Olivia (6), Hugo (3) and Ruby (2), and live in Bellville, not far from Alchemy.
Deolien spends a lot of time caring for their three young kids, but she also likes helping out at the business.
‘Working for myself also allows me the opportunity to manage my time and spend enough time with my young family, which is very important to us,’ Hoffmann says. ‘Our decisions are driven by what is best for our family and I.
‘I’m lucky to have a wonderful and strong wife, who is brilliant with our three kids.’
Photo: Steve Haag / Gallo Images